Can You Vote Online with a Hashtag?

Social media users claimed Trump supporters attempted to suppress the vote in Pennsylvania by falsely telling Clinton supporters they could vote online via a hashtag.

  • Published 17 October 2016

Claim

Pennsylvanians can vote online via social media by using the hashtag #PresidentialElection.

Rumor is that you can vote online between 7 am and 9 pm on Nov. 8th by typing "Hillary", on Twitter or Facebook, using the hashtag #PresidentialElection.

Collected via e-mail, October 2016

Rating

Origin

In mid-October 2016, an image claiming Pennsylvanians could “vote online” during Election Day by using the hashtag #PresidentialElection began circulating on social media:

online voting hashtag

Of course, no hashtag-based online voting mechanism has been implemented in Pennsylvania (or anywhere else). According to many social media users who reposted the image, the false information was being spread by Donald Trump supporters who were aiming to depress voter turnout in the key swing state of Pennsylvania. A number of social media posts shared the image along with such assertions and warned voters against misinformation campaigns about Election Day:

_26__Jeff_Coon_-_THIS_IS_NOT_TRUE__Just_found_this_on_a_McGinty_ad___

The provenance of the meme was unclear. It was most likely intended merely as a joke, which one side then interpreted as a genuine attempt to suppress Democratic voter turnout in Pennsylvania, and which the other side claimed was spread as a smear against their candidate by suggesting his party would resort to such underhanded tricks. (Of course, it would be ridiculous to think that any particular online voting system could be used only by supporters of one particular candidate.)

Fewer than half the states (22) offer an extremely limited form of remote, online-based voting, but that function is typically available to a vanishingly small number of citizens whose circumstances prevent them from participating in standard polling place or mail-in voting.

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